May 2023 Newsletter

Hello! 

Thank you so much for welcoming me so warmly into the Wildlife Warden Coordinator role. It has been really lovely to meet some of you in person and find out about the wonderful work you are all doing across the parishes. We have already got the year off to a good start with some Wildlife Warden training events and we have more planned throughout the spring/summer (see Diary Dates below). I look forward to meeting more of you in the coming months. 

Toothwort at Deer Park Farm

Ancient Woodland Plants ID Walks at Deer Park Farm

Thank you to Audrey for taking several groups out to look at the ancient woodland species found at Deer Park Farm. I think everyone who attended would agree that we learnt so much. Audrey believes in getting very intimate with the plants; exploring them with all your senses to recognise and fix them in your mind! It is a wonderful way to learn and we took home lots of information by sniffing, touching and taking apart the plants we saw.  Audrey suggests talking out loud and naming the plants when seeing them … I’ve only had one odd look so far out on a walk!

CWS Woodland Training at Dunsford Nature Reserve 

We had a really informative morning with Jack Rivers, from Devon Biodiversity Record Centre (DBRC),at the end of April. He led a group of Wildlife Wardens on a County Wildlife Site (CWS) Woodland training session looking at ancient woodland indicator species and learning how to complete the DBRC survey forms. Using this knowledge, trained WWs will now be able to complete surveys at other Unconfirmed Wildlife Sites (UWS) across Teignbridge. If given CWS status, following a survey, the area will be given consideration in any nearby planning applications.

We will be running a further CWS Grassland training session with DBRC on the 26th May. If anyone is interested in coming, please do get in touch with me at  vicky@actionclimateteignbridge.org 

Woodland Bird Song Walks at Blackley Wood 

Thank you so much to our WW Anna for leading two Woodland Birdsong walks in April. I was able to come along to the Saturday walk and we had a glorious morning in Blackley Woods tuning in to all the bird song around us. Sometimes, it was hard to pick out a particular song as there were so many birds singing! We heard blackbirds, song thrushes, black caps, greenfinches, greater spotted woodpeckers, wrens, robins, wood pigeons, blue tits and great tits. Thank you Anna!

WW Risk Assessments

As you know, we are very keen to keep you as safe as possible when carrying out any work, projects or events as a WW. You may remember (perhaps far back on your introductory training course!) that Audrey and Flavio went through how to complete a Risk Assessment (RA) form.

We would ask you to refresh your memory on completing a RA and use one when you are going to be doing a new activity. If you are running an event (having completed the additional “Leading Volunteer Training Course”) please do make sure that you chat through your risk assessment with everyone at the start of an event.

Audrey and I are always happy to read through and make suggestions for any Risk Assessments that you do (please give us a few weeks to do this before an event).

Please do get in touch if you have any queries or if you need me to resend you the introductory handout document which contains more information about how to complete risk assessments at vicky@actionclimateteignbridge

Lucy’s Illustrations

Our very talented Bridford WW Lucy has produced some beautiful illustrations that are being used as part of an information board placed in a bus shelter. The board will display details about the wildflower verges in Bridford and managing them for wildlife. Lucy has kindly said she is happy for other WW to use her illustrations for their own projects if they would like to. These are a couple of examples but Lucy has also painted knapweed, cuckoo flower, cleavers, fox and cubs flower, ox eye daisies, cow parsley, yellow rattle, crested dog’s tail, shining cranesbill, cinquefoil, common shrew, goldfinch, dormouse and ivy.

If you would like to use any of her work for your own projects, please do email Lucy Smerdon at lucy.c.smerdon@gmail.com

Westcountry Rivers Trust CSI sampling 

Several of our Wildlife Wardens have signed up to take part in the Westcountry Rivers Trust Citizen Science Investigations (CSI) project. Volunteers commit to sampling their local river or stream on a monthly basis.

The aims of the Westcountry CSI are:

  • To educate and engage people with the water environment.
  • To produce data that can be used to target work and identify degrading water bodies.
  • To spot pollution events which can be dealt with as quickly as possible.
  • To create a network of catchment communities that are invested in their local environment.

The River Sig and River Lemon are both very close to where I live, so I have just signed up as a new volunteer and received a river location to sample. It is a very easy process to get started. Check out Westcountry CSI if you are interested in becoming a volunteer too. 

Please let me know if you do sign up. We keep a list of WW who are actively sampling and this information is always great to feedback to funders and donors.

Tree Felling in Your Parish

Watching any trees being felled is very emotive but it can be especially difficult if you feel that there is a particular reason that the tree(s) should not be cut down. We have had several emails recently from people concerned about trees being felled in their area and we felt a summary of the steps you can take would be helpful.  

If anyone is worried about trees being felled, they can contact Teignbridge District Council on 01626 361101 (Monday-Thursday 8.30am-5pm and Friday 8.30am-4.30pm) or as an emergency out of hours on 0330 678 2382.

Ask to speak to the Tree Officer, who can find out whether the tree/s have a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) or whether they are in a Conservation Area (which gives similar protection to a TPO). They can also advise, visit or contact the tree owner if a tree felling licence might be required.

You can also search online for whether a tree has a TPO using this checker HERE
 
Tree felling licences are needed for trees that don’t have a TPO and are not in a Conservation Area however, tree owners are allowed to fell up to 5 cubic metres of timber every 3 months without a licence (if they are not selling the wood). To fell any more, they must apply to the Forestry Commission for a licence.

Link to the government rough guide to timber volume calculation HERE 

Welcome to Chudleigh Prickly Hedge
Thank you to Barbara for writing this piece for the newsletter about setting up a successful hedgehog group in Chudleigh. You may be keen to set something up in your parish too!

Our group was formed in September 2019 and, being hedgehog activists (so a friend called us!) we have:

  • a very active Facebook Page (Chudleigh Prickly Hedge) with over 500 members both local and far afield.
  • successfully lobbied both Linden Homes and Wainhomes to implement hedgehog highways on their developments.
  • erected 25 hedgehog go slow signs, bought from British Hedgehogs and sponsored by members.
  • made two eye-catching hedgehog signs at the entrance to the town, numerous hedgehog cut outs and great hedgehog houses and feeders from recycled materials (made by member Jonathan Valentine).
  • volunteered at ELM Wildlife Hedgehog Rescue at Seale Hayne.
  • helped four new local groups (Ippleprickle, Newton Hoggits, Ogwell Hedgehogs, Bovey Hedgehogs) to form, encouraged by our activities. Jonathan has made large hedgehog signs for the village of Kingston in the South Hams.
  • distributed information and ‘Top Tips’ brochure at the Christmas market and around the local estates. All promotional information readily available at Hedgehog Street and British Hedgehogs. These websites/Facebook pages are a valuable resource.
  • run a community art project during Hedgehog Week where over 200 hedgehog cut outs (made by Jonathan) were decorated and displayed around the town. These are still being proudly displayed at Chudleigh School and by the residents at Palace Farm.
  • rounded off 2020 with ‘A Prickle of Hedgehogs’; a display of 49 decorated hedgehogs at Pottery Court coinciding with Open Studios and Chudleigh Arts Festival.

Chudleigh is now aware and supportive of our local colony of hedgehogs.

If you want to set up a local group supporting hedgehogs my main suggestions are:

  • Facebook/social media is an excellent way of promoting and informing people about hedgehogs. It also involves people by getting them to upload photos, etc. It is essential to keep it up to date and interesting. Most of our posts/ideas are from British Hedgehogs, Hedgehog Highways and other hedgehog groups and rescue centres.
  • Distribute leaflets from Hedgehog Street/British Hedgehogs in garden clubs/pet shops/library and in residential streets that have hedgehogs. You also end up talking and involving the residents.
  • Become a Hedgehog Champion with Hedgehog Street. This gives you access to a wide range of free resources and advice on how to involve individuals/schools/towns/developers. It also provides you with a slide show which you can use to give a presentation.
  • Chudleigh Wild organised an interesting presentation given by Stephen Powles who talked about Hedgehog Highways 
  • Do a project that involves the community or local school. It can be a simple footprint tunnel to see if hedgehogs are present. Our community art project was very successful.


The ultimate purpose is to promote the awareness and support of hedgehogs.

Barbara Steele, Chudleigh Prickly Hedge

Dates for your Diary

DateEvent
20th May WW Bumblebee ID Training at Deer Park Farm
22nd May Online Talk about Peat Restoration on Dartmoor (see details below)
26th MayWW CWS Grassland Training with Devon Biodiversity Record Centre 
14th or 20th June TBCWW Beginners Grassland ID Event at Deer Park Farm
26th June Evening EventWater Quality talk with speakers from the SW Peatland Project and the Environment Agency, organised by ACTs 4Fs group. Teign Valley Community Hall, Bowden Room
July/Aug
Date TBC
Bio-blitz-farm survey at Dunchideock – possible WW picnic social
Date TBCWW Visit to Ridgetop Park near Exminster, with a Teignbridge District Council Ranger
9th or 22nd July TBCWW Identifying Butterflies and Day-Flying Moths with Peter Hurst from Butterfly Conservation

Please also look at the Devon Local Nature Partnership Upcoming events

There are lots of interesting meetings coming up, along with the 2023 LNP Conference which will be held at Exeter Racecourse on 13th June.

Join us on the 22nd of May for an online talk on the PEAT RESTORATION IN DARTMOOR.

David Leach, the Peatland Restoration Officer in Dartmoor, will be giving an overview of the project and Rachel Land, Education and Engagement Officer, will be talking about volunteer opportunities..

Through funding from DEFRA, the South West Peatland Partnership will restore 1599 ha of degraded peatland on the South West’s iconic moors (Bodmin Moor, Dartmoor and Exmoor). Around 300Ha of this restoration will take place here on Dartmoor.

Research carried out by the University of Exeter found that just 1% of Dartmoor’s peatland area is still intact, healthy peat-forming bog, whilst lots of the remainder has been severely damaged by drainage, cutting, drying and erosion. Water is coming off the damaged peatlands more quickly, contributing to flood risk downstream. The damaged peat is releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and dissolved carbon and silt into our rivers and drinking water. The wider moorland landscape is changing, as peat dries out and gradually we are losing the wildlife that relies on peat bogs.

The project is working on 5 restoration sites to block erosion gullies, drainage channels and peat cuttings, and re-wet the peat.

https://www.dartmoor.gov.uk/wildlife-and-heritage/our-conservation-work/the-south-west-peatland-project

Meeting Details:

ACT is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Peat Restoration in Dartmoor
Time: May 22, 2023 19:30 London

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us06web.zoom.us/j/3684268674

Meeting ID: 368 426 8674

The evening of 24 May should prove to be a highlight in the calendar. The Greenspaces Team in Exminster – members of the Wildlife Warden Network – are joining forces with the RSPB, the Teignbridge Ranger team and DWT to showcase how community action can work with partners to demonstrate a love for the natural world. From the Exminster Marshes to the Ridgetop Country Park and a host of village based projects in between. The evening is free and open to all – come and join the conversation.

ACT Website

ACT have asked that any events the WWs are running are listed on the ACT website Events Area HERE  

Please click on “Tell us about your event” in the first box, and follow the link.

MailChimp – If you update any of you details via a Mailchimp link please also let me know by emailing vicky@actionclimateteignbridge.org as it does not automatically change the Wildlife Warden database. Many thanks.

Round up of Wildlife Warden Activity Across Teignbridge

Ashton
Shira has written an article in the Parish magazine about the wonderful achievement of Spara Bridge Meadow being designating a County Wildlife Site. 108 wildflowers and grasses were identified last year! Shira plans to be involved with surveying other possible sites in Ashton this year and has started surveying The Forestry, Higher Ashton; 23 veteran trees identified so far!  A swift survey at the church has found it is suitable for fitting swift boxes on all four louvred windows of the bell tower. Hopefully, these will be put up this year or next. Shira continued to survey hedges for a neighbouring farmer, to enable him to apply for funding under the SLI Hedgerows Standard. 

Dunsford
WWs have continued to survey hedgerows for DBRC. Julia and Jo have also surveyed for Brown Hairstreak butterfly eggs over winter. A small group have helped survey the wildflowers along the Dunsford lanes. Julia has written an article for the Unity Magazine and also liaised with the local church warden about greening plans for the year. Julia is now on the parish council subcommittee to promote rewilding and greening in Dunsford and she continues to join “Smatters” the litter picking group regularly. 

A group of ten WWs joined Julia in a Woodland Trust wood, at the end of April, to help create a species ID list for a UWS. We all had a great morning, immersed in plants and learning lots from each other. We look forward to Julia’s report later. Thank you to everyone for their help!

Exminster
Exminster Greenspaces are busy organising the “Exminster Loves Nature” event on 24th May (see poster above). As part of the Exminster Nature Recovery Project Greenspaces volunteers have been planting trees and bulbs, tidying up the village orchard and managing the tree nursery. A tawny owl box has been installed in the oak tree by Devington Park and the bat box, won as runner up prize in the Wildlife Community Group of the year, has been put up along with another 12 bird boxes – fingers crossed for inhabitants soon! In order to create community engagement the team have been promoting the Devon Wildlife Trust Garden Award – 45 have now been awarded in the village. In January a successful Wassail was held in the village orchard attracting over 100 people to the event! The team are also working with the church to help develop the churchyard for wildlife as well as coming to agreement with Teign housing to plant a tree on land near the school.  

Hennock
Chris and Becky have signed up to take part in the RSPB Cirl Bunting surveys over the summer. They have also been recording and submitting general wildlife sightings to the DBRC. They are getting more involved with the parish council and have been reviewing planning applications and feeding in the importance of environmental issues. Recently, they have had solar panels fitted to their house which is creating some interest and discussion with others in the village. Chris and Becky have been involved in a litter picking event and are encouraging others to pick up and bin one piece of plastic every time they are out. Over the past few years, they have also been making efforts to reduce the number of days they eat meat; now down from over 50% to 25%. They have created an online folder with rated recipes to help them meal plan, reduce waste, save money, and eat vegetarian dishes they enjoy!  

Ideford
Our Ideford WWs have been busy raising awareness of the local wildlife with regular parish news articles, market stalls and a photographic display in the village hall. They have also been improving habitats and creating new ones by making a wildlife area and starting to put up swift boxes in the church, restoring the Fever trees, distributing 200 saplings from the Woodland Trust and continuing to offer a slug pellet amnesty to local residents. The WWs have also been involved in various local surveys including hedgerows, monitoring bat flight paths (with Chudleigh Wild) and monthly water quality measurements of a stream. Finally, they have been assisting the Parish Council on planning issues as well as supporting local residents with any environmental concerns. 

Ilsignton
Linda and Sheree have been busy at Liverton Village Hall creating a wildflower area to encourage insects bees, birds & hedgehogs into this unused space. The local Beaver group have also been involved and will plant their homemade wildflower seed bombs here as well. They are looking to find other areas within the parish to improve too.

Thank you all so much for letting me know what you have been up to and apologies if your parish has not been mentioned in this newsletter – (I have only included the information that I have recently received and have access to as the new coordinator). Keep your updates coming, they are a joy to read! 

Well done if you have made it to the end! 

Look forward to hearing from you soon, 

Vicky